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As we go to press the media is full of news and reports about SARS—Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome—the cold-like virus that develops rapidly into pneumonia and has spread panic and mayhem in Asia and various other parts of the world. As of April 24, there are 4439 reported cases. There have been 263 deaths: 219 in China and Hong Kong, 19 in Singapore, and 15 in Canada. In the U.S. there have been no deaths reported and as of April 17 there were 199 SARS cases reported.*

Right now the "epidemic" is mostly confined to Asia with cases in other countries brought in from travelers who had mostly traveled to or from Hong Kong.

The most terrible epidemic of all time
It is always sobering to reflect on the flu epidemic of 1918: the biggest pandemic in all of human history. It was said that the illness came on so suddenly that people were well in the morning and dead by the evening. In that epidemic an estimated 20--40 million people died worldwide.

Those treated with homeopathy had a mortality rate between 1% and 3% while those treated with conventional care had a mortality rate of 2% to 10%.**

Homeopathy for SARS?
Homeopaths around the world are on red-alert listening for the symptoms that might guide them to a small group of helpful remedies. At the present time, it is too early to identify such a group as the symptoms being reported are mostly common symptoms that are covered by a large number of remedies. We know that SARS comes on suddenly, that it exhibits a high fever, and is accompanied by a lowered platelet count and a dry cough that develops quickly into pneumonia.
There was an interesting report on a French e-mail list at the beginning of April. The writer, Frederic Schmitt, came down with flu-like symptoms four days after contact with a Thai friend who had SARS at the time. Frederic related that he had experienced the following strong symptoms: shivers, faintness and malaise, all violent and intense coming on with "impressive speed." He took a single dose of the homeopathic remedy Eupatorium perfoliatum and the symptoms stopped in their tracks. He was fully recovered in another two days.

Symptom search
I searched through the Complete Repertory for the remedies that have the following symptoms in common:
• Sudden onset of symptoms
• High fever with shaking
• Malaise to the point of feeling faint
• Violent cough with pneumonia.
Arsenicum, Belladonna, Eupatorium perfoliatum, and Phosphorus are the four remedies that have each of these symptoms.
Arsenicum has the most weakness to the point of prostration, with terrible anxiety and restlessness.
Belladonna has the highest fever: a burning, dry heat with no perspiration and no thirst.
Eupatorium has the most (violent) shaking as well as terrible pains in the bones and joints and a violent cough that makes the head hurt.
Phosphorus has pneumonia with a terrible, dry cough and purulent, green and/or bloody expectoration.
Aconite and Ferrum phosphoricum are possibilities in the early stages of this disease—only in the first 24 hours of the fever before other symptoms have developed. (See Homeopathy Today, November 2002, "Ferrum phosphoricum; still vague after all these years" and "Research and rediscovery of a cherished remedy.")
The mortality rate for SARS is running at 4--5% which means 95--96% of people are recovering. This may be a serious epidemic that is flexing its muscles or hopefully it will be something that fizzles out in the coming weeks or months. Either way let's use this time to remember how lucky we are to have homeopathy in our lives.

* The World Health Organization has created a website to provide information about the spread of the disease. Their site includes recommended measures related to international travel and up-to-date reports on the numbers of cases and affected countries.
** "Homeopathic Prophylaxis: Fact Or Fiction," Todd A. Hoover, MD (NCH Website:

About the author:
Julian Winston has been Editor of Homeopathy Today since 1984. He is currently a Board Member Emeritus of the NCH, having been on the NCH Board since 1982. He is the past-Dean of the NCH Summer School(1988--1992), as well as author of The Faces of Homeopathy (the book and the video) a homeopathic bibliography, The Heritage of Homeopathic Literature, and two instruction books concerning pedal steel guitar. He moved to New Zealand in 1995 where he lives with his 2000+ volume homeopathic library and co directs the Wellington College of Homœopathy with his wife, Gwyneth Evans. He can be reached at